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Life, Unbounded

Comet 67P Only Looks Gray, It’s Actually Black

Comet 67P in all its colourful glory (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has now released the first narrow-angle color composite image of Comet 67P – taken through a set of red, green, and blue filters. And here it is, in all its glory from a mere 120 kilometers away, with a roughly 3.9 meter per pixel resolution. You might be forgiven [...]

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Life, Unbounded

That Comet? That’s You, 4.5 Billion Years Ago

The surface of a comet, with one of Philae's landing feet (Credit ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA)

As the European Space Agency’s Philae lander bounced and settled onto the surface of comet 67P/C-G’s crumbly nucleus it wasn’t just space exploration, it was time travel. This stupendous feat of spacecraft design and operation has brought us to a place little changed from its original state, a condensation and agglomeration of one small part [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Surreal Task of Landing on a Comet

The top of the 'duck's head' where Philae will attempt to land (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

On November 12th 2014 the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will eject the small robotic lander Philae on a trajectory that should take it down to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-P for short). Already Rosetta is maneuvering from its 10 kilometer orbit to get into the right place to deploy Philae. The landing [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Failure Is Always An Option

One of the lucky ones...Saturn V launch (NASA)

Do not try this at home. A Russian Proton-M launch goes wrong – and it can happen to anyone (wait for the shock wave). A rocket is a controlled bomb. The fully fueled Saturn V ‘moon rocket’ held an explosive force of about half a kiloton of TNT, enough to do some serious damage if [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Interview: The New Moon

moon

Think you know about the Moon? I did, but then I started reading ‘The New Moon: Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation‘ (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and realized that my knowledge amounted to a teensy scrap of lunar dust. For the past few years my colleague Prof. Arlin Crotts has been assembling an astonishingly detailed look [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Sneaking up on a Sweaty Comet

(ESA)

Over the coming month the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission will fire its main engines no less than eight times to tweak its interplanetary intercept course with Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko; eventually sidling up to the 4 kilometer wide cometary nucleus at about 7.9 meters per second in early August. At that point, with some gentler [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Jumping Rocks of Mars

Before...and after (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

Now you don’t see it, now you do. Ten years into a mission that was originally going to only last a few months, NASA’s Opportunity rover continues to turn up surprises on Mars. In this case quite literally. Take a look at the following pair of images from the rover’s location at ‘Solander Point’, up [...]

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Life, Unbounded

‘We Are The Explorers’: A Symphony Of NASA And Star Trek

ISS025-E-09858_lrg

NASA produces a lot of great visual material, including some slick inspirational videos. But as a federal agency it can’t legally purchase air time to put this material in front of TV or movie-going audiences. Enter a crowdfunded effort to place ‘We Are The Explorers’ as a trailer to the upcoming Star Trek movie ‘Into [...]

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Observations

Davos: The Future of Space

Space: the beneficial frontier. That was the underlying theme of a panel called “The Future of Space,” which I moderated at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos, Switzerland. It was the first such session on space services in the formal part of the program at this meeting of leaders in policy and business—and [...]

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